Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-10-15
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman
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Now is the time for conservation science—a mission-oriented scientific enterprise that seeks to protect nature, including Earth’s animals, plants, and ecosystems, in the face of unprecedented human demands upon the planet. Conservation scientists apply principles from ecology, population genetics, economics, political science, and other natural and social sciences to manage and preserve nature. The focus of this textbook is first and foremost on protecting nature and especially Earth’s biota. It also contains a heavy emphasis on highlighting strategies to better connect the practice of conservation with the needs and priorities of a growing human population.

Now used at over 150 colleges and universities, Conservation Science is an original and modern approach to conservation. Gretchen Daily (Stanford University) says it well: “Based on unparalleled, firsthand experience, Kareiva and Marvier explore the innovative approaches to conservation being honed around the world today. Their account is rigorous and engaging, with fresh questions, data, and quantitative analysis interwoven with vivid stories of actual conservation practice in the field."

Conservation Science was primarily written primarily for undergraduates and beginning graduate students who are interested either in academic careers or working in conservation at government agencies, non-governmental organizations, or international institutions.


  • The authors describe the innovative approaches to conservation being practiced around the world today—from advances in fundamental research through to their application in some of conservation’s most difficult practical and ethical situations.
  • Throughout the text the authors prompt students to think critically and develop their own positions on conservation’s key debates. See the “Consider This” essays following each chapter.
  • The authors engage the reader through Discussion Questions, as well as Group Projects that utilize global conservation data available through highlighted websites.
  • Chapters on forests, fresh water, agriculture, and marine fisheries offer a unique and realistic view into how conservation is being practiced today.
  • Every chapter has been updated with the latest scientific developments and new case studies. 
  • The new edition is accompanied by an online assessment website that allows students to test their understanding as they read.

Author Biography

Peter Kareiva is the chief scientist and a vice president for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization, with over 500 scientists on staff. He also maintains an appointment at Santa Clara University. Before moving to The Nature Conservancy, Dr. Kareiva was the director of the Division of Conservation Biology at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center. He has served on the editorial board of over a dozen different journals, edited seven books, and been a faculty member at Brown University and the Universities of Washington and Virginia. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and done research, consulting, teaching, or conservation work in 20 countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 papers and articles, many of them in collaboration with colleagues in fisheries, agriculture, economics, and forestry. In 2007 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Michelle Marvier is a professor of environmental science at Santa Clara University, where she has taught undergraduate courses in conservation science since 2000. She has published more than 40 articles, is on the editorial board of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and regularly publishes articles with her undergraduate students. Dr. Marvier has also worked for NOAA Fisheries on salmon conservation and has served as an adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and The Nature Conservancy on matters of statistics, monitoring, and risk analysis.

Table of Contents

Part I. Why Conservation is Needed
1. Humans Are the Dominant Ecological Force
2. Biodiversity and Extinction
3. Ecosystem Services: Accounting for Nature's Value
Part II. Policy, Protected Areas, and Planning
4. Policy Responses to Biodiversity Loss and Ecosystem Degradation
5. Protected Areas: A Cornerstone of Conservation
6. Conservation Planning and Priorities
Part III. How Science Informs Conservation Strategies
7. The Perils of Small Populations
8. Population Size, Trend, and Viability
9. Assessing Threats and Choosing Conservation Actions
10. Islands of Nature and the Role of Dispersal
11. Restoration and Reintroduction: Measures of Last Resort
12. Adaptive Management and Evidence-Based Conservation
Part IV. Conservation Challenges in a World Shaped by Humans
13. Reversing Global Deforestation and Forest Degradation
14. Balancing Agriculture and Conservation
15. Maintaining Sustainable Marine Fisheries
16. Managing Fresh Water for People and Nature
17. Getting Practical about Introduced Species
18. Climate Change Demands New Conservation Strategies
19. Making Conservation a Success Story

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